Thursday, April 25, 2013


Blisters, what are you good for....Absolutely Nothing

(I was going to post a pic of blistered feet 
but that just grossed me out, go ahead google it....)

In two Ultras where I ran in excess of 50 miles (75 and 71.25) I suffered badly from blistering.  So I wanted to learn as much I could about the subject. 

Blisters are caused by friction, heat and sweating. 

Shoes - As with other running ailments, it all begins with the shoes. Your shoes must fit properly. Too snug / loose is always a problem. Ensure that there is ½ inch space between your longest toe and the end of your shoe. Be sure that you have enough room to wiggle your toes inside the toe box, and your heel does not slip.  You should choose shoes that breath well.

Inspect the inside of shoes for seams / worn areas that produce extra friction.

Socks - Socks should fit without being too tight or too loose.  Choose soft wicking fabric. Cotton absorbs moisture and is usually a little rough in texture. Some choose to wear two layers (or one made with double layers) to aid in prevention.

Do not wear socks that are too worn. Thin areas and holes are likely to produce hot spots.  Do not wear untested socks on a long run. 

Lubricant -
When you increase mileage all other efforts may fail. It is time for real preventative. There are a variety of lubricants on the market and are available at most running stores.  Many distance runners use lubricants on their feet, i.e. Body Glide, Bag Balm

Blister Blocks, Second Skin and Spyroflex - Have specific places that are prone to blisters?  Try applying one of these as a preventative, or to provide cushion and protection after a blister has formed.

Used on long distance training. They are like a thick rubbery extra skin you apply to problem areas to cushion and protect. 

Some long distance runners will apply tincture of benzoin to skin every day for a few weeks in order to toughen sensitive areas. Tincture of benzoin can be found at your local pharmacy. Not a prescription, but it is usually kept behind the counter.  Of course others will suggest that softer feet are less likely to blister. You can keep your feet soft by applying a moisturizer daily.

Wrapping and Taping - Using moleskin or taping feet with athletic tape (or duct tape) is also a common practice. If you wrap your feet it is important that the tape is applied smoothly (no wrinkles) and not too tight. Ultra runners might tape their entire foot, but most only need to tape up hot spots.

Moleskin can also be used to cover a blister that has already formed.  Cut a piece larger than the blister and cut a hole in the center. (Shaped like a donut.) This will cushion the blister, but the blister itself will not be covered.

Hopefully using a combination of the preventatives above you will come away blister free. It is important to apply the products prior to your run if you are prone to blisters. You can also carry supplies with you.

How do you prevent/treat blisters?

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